Tim Keller Sermon Notes – Series: Money and Possessions in the Teachings of St. Luke – Sermon #1: Money and the Woes of Jesus

Sermon preached on June 6, 2010.

Teaching is based on Luke 6:19-26; 30-35.

Please note that these sermon notes are provided only to encourage, and that any or all parts of the notes may contain errors or omissions, due entirely to the note-taker. Full audio of the sermon may be found at the Redeemer Sermon Store.


  • In June we’ll be looking at what our attitude should be toward money and possessions, and each week it’ll be out of the writings of Luke. This author talks more about writing and possessions than any other one biblical author. Tonight we’ll frame up the series by looking at a concept that’s all through the NT but often hard to put your finger on.
  • When Luke talks about money, he so often does so when he’s talking about the Kingdom of God. What is that? That’s what I want to talk to you tonight.
  • When the Bible says the Kingdom of God is coming, it means the king is coming, Jesus is coming. But when a king comes, it means he’s bringing a kingdom, an administration.
    • For example, if you get a new coach on a team, you also get a new way of doing things. The leader brings his or her priorities, motivations, dynamics, values, and each kingdom produces a certain kind of person.
    • What we have in this passage is a contrast b/w Jesus’ kingdom and the way the world operates. The “woes” in this passage are connected to the kingdom of this world
    • “In the life of God’s people will be seen a remarkable reversal of values: God’s people will prize what the world calls pitiable, and will suspect what the world calls prizeworthy.” – Michael Wilcock (sp?), Commentary on Luke


  1. The world’s kingdom
  2. Jesus’ kingdom
  3. How you know which kingdom you’re in
  1. The World’s Kingdom
    1. You see in vv. 24-26 woes being pronounced on a certain way of life.
      1. Woe is not meaning, “You’re condemned.”
      2. When someone in the olden days used to say, “Woe is me,” he wasn’t condemning himself, he was pitying himself. Jesus is expressing pity on these people, not condemning them.
  2. What are the values of this world’s kingdom?
    1. Prizing Power: Woe to you who are rich.
    2. Prizing Comfort: Woe to you who are well-fed (having your physical desires satiated fully)
    3. Prizing Success: Woe to you who laugh (not saying “happy”, Gk means “to gloat b/c you won”)
    4. Prizing Recognition: Woe to you when all men speak well of you.
  3. Is he saying it’s bad to have these things?
    1. No: he’s saying these are bad only if you get your deep consolation from them. Jesus uses the Gk word for “deep consolation” to describe the Holy Spirit!
    2. He’s saying that when these things are your comfort, when they’re what you live for, when they’re what your identity is based on, you are a member of the kingdom of this world even if you are coming to Redeemer and taking notes on the sermons and doing all the right Christian things.
      1. He’s saying that if these are your paraklesis, your deepest consolation, you will be disappointed. He pities you.

II. Jesus’ Kingdom

  1. Here are the people who inherit his kingdom. He says, “Blessed are:
    1. The Poor
    2. The Hungry
    3. The Grieving
    4. The Exluded
  2. Now, what does that mean?
    1. Some say, “Simple! Christians are those who seek these things.” But that is too simple. He can’t be saying that. It doesn’t match the rest of the text.
    2. Jesus is NOT saying, “You must not be successful, you must be persecuted, you must be poor.”
      1. People who believe this tend to be proud: I’m better than those comfortable Christan.
      2. OR they tend to be proud: I’m afraid of being comfortable, I’m afraid of being successful.
    3. No, he’s not saying you must SEEK poverty
    4. Just as he said, “On the surface, success, etc, can look great, and can still be pitiable.”
    5. So too, here: He is saying that these things look bad, but they’re not always so.
    6. He’s saying members of His kingdom can TAKE poverty, they can take hunger, they can take grieving, they can take exclusion
  3. One of the ways you can tell what kingdom you’re in is how do you deal with poverty? How do you deal with rejection? How do you deal with failure?
  4. If you’re in the world’s kingdom, losing success, recognition, etc, causes a meltdown in your life. You can’t tolerate it.
    1. Lk 16 Parable of Lazarus and a Rich Man
    2. Abraham says, “Your riches were more than just riches. They were your comfort; they were who you were.”
    3. This is the only parable in which one character is given a proper name (Lazarus) and one isn’t (the rich man)
    4. It’s one thing to be a rich man, or a teacher, or a writer, but it’s another thing if that’s all you are. If you lose the riches, or the job, there’s nothing left of you, you go into meltdown, you have no other identity.
  5. v. 23 Rejoice, because Christians say, “I’m not just my art, I’m not just my money.” They say, “I’ve got a name! I’m not just a _____.”
  6. The way you can tell the difference b/w someone in the world’s kingdom and someone in Jesus’, is because when affliction hits, it’s not the end of the world—we can even value it, b/c we know it’s producing something in us.
  7. Some people have always said, “It’s weird that the sermon on the mount says blessed are the poor in spirit, but then you get to Luke 6 and it doesn’t say that.” Which is it?
    1. You cannot become a Christian, you can’t even be in the kingdom of God, unless, spiritually speaking, you “get poor.” You don’t become a Christian by saying, “Oh father, look at all the things I’ve done, pls bless me.” No, you say, “Father, I’ve got nothing to offer, but please, I’m grieving, I’ve got no hope in myself, my only hope is in your grace-based salvation.”
    2. The one way you know that you’re no longer into works-righteousness is if you see materially poor people you no longer look down on them.
    3. One of the ways you know you’re repentant, you’ve really had your heart broken by the knowledge of your sin, you’re no longer hard-hearted to grieving people: your heart goes out to them.
  8. Jesus is saying in Luke and Matthew that those who are spiritually changed are radically changed in how they view people who are poor, grieving, etc.
  9. Karl Marx paraphrase: “You can’t tell people there’s a heaven. It’s the opiate of the people! It keeps them from caring about social justice in this world.” But this text, Luke 6, says Karl Marx is wrong.
    1. If Marx is right, and all my comfort is to be found in this life, then if fighting injustice means losing my job or my wealth, then I can’t do it, because this is all I’ve got!
      1. But if this material comfort isn’t all I’ve got, then I’m free to blow the whistle, I’m free to fight injustice.
    2. In this way, the gospel is not the opium of the people, it’s more like the smelling salts.

III. So, what are the signs that you’re in the Kingdom of Jesus?

  1. You don’t melt down when the troubles come
  2. You have become spiritually poor yourself
  3. You care about the poor and marginalized
  4. It’s what you do with your money
    1. This is why I included vv. 30-35
    2. If anyone doesn’t give money you’ve lent them, you shouldn’t ask for it back.
    3. This is not talking about giving to everyone who asks of you on the street.
    4. The word “give” used here is the word for “lending.”
  5. In those days, if someone came to you and asked for a loan, it usually meant they were in real trouble. And whether or not you gave to them depended on the Greco-Roman patronage system.
    1. If a patron had a request for a loan, the patron who was smart and saavy would be happy to have someone owe them if they could get a future favor from them.
    2. Jesus is blowing that up here, saying, “How dare you use the patronage system!”
      1. If you are in my kingdom, you will be so radically generous that it will outrage, it will shock, the people of your day. You are so free from needing all these things that you are radically generous.
  6. If your accountant isn’t in the kingdom of God, and they see what you’re giving away, they’re going to think that you’re nuts.
    1. By the way, no offense to any accountants in here.
    2. Jesus is saying that whatever your cultural norms are for giving, you will blow through those.
      1. Outrageously generous
      2. Promisicuously generous
      3. Insanely generous

An Encouragement and a Warning

  1. An encouragement
    1. The whole thing rests on v. 23. The reason you can do all these things is because you know that you have real riches, real honor, real joy waiting for you at the end of time.
    2. But how can you be sure? How can you be certain?
      1. The hint is in v. 19: “And the people all tried to touch him b/c the power was going out from him and healing them all.”
    3. I love all the places where Jesus heals people and makes them whole by losing power, by losing strength.
      1. Remember the place in Mark where the hemoraging woman touches him, and she’s healed, and he says, Power has left me, who touched me? It’s pointing to the cross.
    4. All these woes fell on Jesus
      1. He was perfectly rich, and he became poor so we could become rich
      2. He was perfectly happy, and he became the man of sorrows so we could have eternal joy
      3. He was perfectly in and loved and he became an outcast
      4. He was persecuted and destroyed so we could join the kingdom of God
  2. That’s your encouragement, now here’s a warning:
    1. My personality is always to end with an encouragement, so this week I thought I’d change it up and end with a warning.
    2. Daniel 5 tells about a dying kingdom. Belshazer was the leader of the city of Babylon. Now, he must have known that the Persian army was showing up and there was no way to stop him. So Belshazer throws a party! They were laughing, toasting, acclaiming each other, and they were satiating all of their sensual desires, and in the midst of all this festivity, suddenly the handwriting begins on the wall, essentially saying, “Your days are numbered.”
    3. Some years ago I was reading a commentary on Luke 6 by Earl Ellis (?) and he referred to Daniel 5, and said, “It’s a good passage to read if you’re reading what Jesus says here.” I said, “What?”
    4. But are you someone who’s looking for power, success, riches? Are you a typical New Yorker? Then your days are numbered. When Jesus showed up, He was the handwriting on the wall for the kingdom of this world.
    5. I don’t want you to be like Belshazer.
    6. Repent, grieve, become spiritually poor.

Closing with prayer: This isn’t a matter of summoning our strength to live this way. We need the gospel to come home to our hearts. We need to see your beauty. One of the ways to do that is the Lord’s Supper now.


About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

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